The books that have stayed with me the longest are the ones that I can relate to. This is true of most stories: If we can see ourselves in them, there’s a greater chance we’ll keep coming back to them. It’s relatability, it’s visibility–it’s important.
For me, I usually find myself in the characters, but that’s not the only way to relate to a story. I love it when a book gives me a clear sense of space that I can see and navigate as if I were there myself. That’s made endlessly easier when a book is set somewhere that you actually know.
How many books have you read set in Tennessee? Below you’ll find a list of books set in the Southern Appalachia region, primarily east Tennessee and Virginia, though there are a few further flung locations.
- A Death in the Family by James Agee, Fiction
- Appalachia: The Voice of Sleeping Birds by Cynthia Rylant, Children’s Fiction
- Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, Fiction (Has everyone read this one already? Maybe)
- Blindside by Catherine Coulter, Mystery/Thriller
- Bloodroot by Amy Greene, Fiction
- Child of God by Cormac McCarthy, Fiction/Southern Gothic
- Christy by Catherine Marshall, Historical Fiction
- Darwin’s Children by Natasha Larry, Young Adult Fiction
- The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, YA Fiction (I know it’s Panem, but District 12 is set in Appalachia, which is cool)
- If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch, YA Fiction
- Pioneers in Paradise: Legends and Stories from Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia by V.N. Phillips, Nonfiction
- Provinces of Night by William Gay, Fiction/Southern Gothic
- Suttree by Cormac McCarthy, Fiction/Southern Gothic
- The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore, Fiction
- Twilight by William Gay, Horror (I don’t believe there are any vampires)
- Wash by Margaret Wrinkle, Historical Fiction
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it’s a place for you (and me!) to start. I know what I’ll be picking up from the library next week!
If you have any favorite novels set in our region, please pass along a recommendation.